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Old 01-04-2008, 12:10 AM   #1
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


Hi - I'm going to be installing receptacles & switches in the addition I'm building this weekend. Just stopped at Home Depot tonight to get an idea of prices, what's available, etc. I found a WIDE range of prices for similar items - 15A receptacles from $0.38 (in a 10-pack) to $5.29 each.

I want good quality - I intend to be here a long time, and the feel of cheap switches & outlets bugs me. But where is the knee in the price/quality curve? I'll be installing about 90 devices, so $0.38 vs. $5.29 adds up quickly! Any recommendations? Brands to seek out or avoid? Is the stuff available at Home Depot or Lowes good quality - or should I make a trip down to one of the electrical supply houses?

And finally - any recommendations on 3-way dimmers?

Thanks
Eric

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Old 01-04-2008, 01:07 AM   #2
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


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Originally Posted by Armitage View Post
Hi - I'm going to be installing receptacles & switches in the addition I'm building this weekend. Just stopped at Home Depot tonight to get an idea of prices, what's available, etc. I found a WIDE range of prices for similar items - 15A receptacles from $0.38 (in a 10-pack) to $5.29 each.

I want good quality - I intend to be here a long time, and the feel of cheap switches & outlets bugs me. But where is the knee in the price/quality curve? I'll be installing about 90 devices, so $0.38 vs. $5.29 adds up quickly! Any recommendations? Brands to seek out or avoid? Is the stuff available at Home Depot or Lowes good quality - or should I make a trip down to one of the electrical supply houses?

And finally - any recommendations on 3-way dimmers?

Thanks
Eric
On a recent remodel, I bought receptacles from the BORG but I did choose the heavy duty type. These have excellent contact pressure (my wife complains because it is hard to insert/remove plug-connected equipment) and that is my main reason for using them. $5.29 for a single 15A receptacle? That seems a bit steep. Still, I wouldn't skimp on quality for an extra bit of $$$.

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Old 01-04-2008, 11:26 AM   #3
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


I have to disagree. The cheap devises serve the same purpose as the more expensive ones. Both are UL listed for safety. However, on receptacles and switches that will be used extensively I go for better quality. Why have 5$ recepts behind a sofa that are never used. Take a look at where these devices are used and determin the usage. If it has a light plugged in, how many times do you plan to uplug the light. You can see where I am going.
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Old 01-04-2008, 01:11 PM   #4
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


I'm with J.V.. Use quality receptacles in the kitchen, bathroom, and workshop, or anywhere else they get heavy use. Cheapies are fine in the bedrooms and living room. Same with switches. Get good quality switches for all the most used areas.
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any recommendations on 3-way dimmers?
One of the better manufacturers of dimmer switches is Lutron. I know home depot used to carry them, I don't know if they still do.
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Old 01-04-2008, 03:11 PM   #5
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


I'm with JV and junkcollector, use quality where needed. My new three way dimmer and fan speed controller are Lutron they work well and I got them at Lowes.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:48 PM   #6
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


Armitage, You have an excellent question.

As a pro, I wouldn't dream of mixing and matching devices in a house. I'm not saying it is a bad idea, I'm just saying it wouldn't have occured to me. I've always held Pass & Seymour Legrand residential grade devices close to my heart...Do you have an electrical supply house close by? They've always taken my CASH, but your mileage may vary. I'd install cheap everywhere. If you don't like a device or it doesn't perform, replace it. What's 39 cents? After all, you are wiring it...turn off the circuit and replace that sucker.

I have one MAJOR exception to this philosophy. Buy the most expensive GFCI in the joint.

Andy
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:42 PM   #7
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


I'm going to go along with Andy on Pass and Seymour trademaster devices.... these are darn fine quality switches and receptacles. I really don't know any residential wireman that would mix and match a house as far as receptacles and switches. I suppose as a home owner can do that if he wishes, I wouldn't.

There is actually a heck of a lot of difference in the construction of receptacles. UL labs and the federal government determine receptacle grades. There are only 4 grades of receptacles that are recognized. General use, hospital use, federal use, and hospital/federal use. Grades such as commercial, spec grade, heavy duty, industrial so on and so forth are just names used to target a particular market and get you to buy by association to the application. All of these will fall into one of the 4 grades previously mentioned. UL establishes the minimum construction standards for receptacle grades with 'general use being low on the totem pole. Each of the 4 grades I mentioned above undergoes testing and construction standards specific to the grade of the receptacle. For example general use does not require wrap around metal yoke and the internal metal 'wipes' that hold the prongs of a plug are not required to have the tension holding power of say a hospital grade or federal grade and are made of thinner metal as a result. Federal specification in the form of an 'S' or 'F' stamped on the yoke or embossed on the face will get you a quality receptacle with features such as backwiring and solid metal wrap around yoke and the heaviest gauge metal wipes with holding tensions that exceed the minimums.
So look for the federal stamp on the yoke and you will be fine if you want a better quality receptacle. Hospital grades are not really meant for residences and these have a green dot on the face of the receptacle. They only differ from federal grade in that they undergo more stringent testing such as jerk tests. This receptacle below is a receptacle made to more stringent construction standards as indicated by the federal grade stamp.



Hope this helps

Last edited by Stubbie; 01-04-2008 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:50 PM   #8
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


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I'm going to go along with Andy on Pass and Seymour trademaster devices.... these are darn fine quality switches and receptacles. I really don't know any residential wireman that would mix and match a house as far as receptacles and switches. I suppose as a home owner can do that if he wishes, I wouldn't.

There is actually a heck of a lot of difference in the construction of receptacles. UL labs and the federal government determine receptacle grades. There are only 4 grades of receptacles that are recognized. General use, hospital use, federal use, and hospital/federal use. Grades such as commercial, spec grade, heavy duty, industrial so on and so forth are just names used to target a particular market and get you to buy by association to the application. All of these will fall into one of the 4 grades previously mentioned. UL establishes the minimum construction standards for receptacle grades with 'general use being low on the totem pole. Each of the 4 grades I mentioned above undergoes testing and construction standards specific to the grade of the receptacle. For example general use does not require wrap around metal yoke and the internal metal 'wipes' that hold the prongs of a plug are not required to have the tension holding power of say a hospital grade or federal grade and are made of thinner metal as a result. Federal specification in the form of an 'S' or 'F' stamped on the yoke will get you a quality receptacle with features such as backwiring and solid metal wrap around yoke and the heaviest gauge metal wipes with holding tensions that exceed the minimums.
So look for the federal stamp on the yoke and you will be fine if you want a better quality receptacle. Hospital grades are not really meant for residences and these have a green dot on the face of the receptacle. They only differ from federal grade in that they undergo more stringent testing such as jerk tests.

Hope this helps

Thanks - this is the kind of answer I was hoping for! I kind of figured that "commercial" and "heavy duty" were just marketing - but on closer examination, I defintely did notice a difference between some of them. As usual, I'll likely go for the middle of the road in price range - but don't intend to mix-n-match.

Thanks to all.
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:54 PM   #9
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


I attached an image after editing to show you the federal stamp on the previous post.
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:22 PM   #10
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


Stubbie, JV, Andy at al. I understand and agree with your points. However, the house I live in is quite old and many of the recepts are so bad that they hardly hold the appliance plugs. The Leviton HD residential receptacles that I've been using are ~$15.00 for a box of ten or roughly $1.50 each. The contact pressure in these is such that they really grip the plug spades tightly, more so than the $.40 ones. Is it better? Not necessarily. But is the $1.50 and the piece of mind (preventing loose connections) worth it to me? Well, I guess so (although I must admit that any new receptacle features a contact pressure that is more than sufficient). And at the end of the day, the cost doesn't seem to excessive (certainly far less than $5/recept).

Perhaps I'm just being too cautious but call it my preference!

Take care guys,
Jimmy
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:41 PM   #11
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Jim

Your saying the same thing as I was saying Heavy duty is to get you to buy it but it is a better receptacle than the cheapies and will likely carry the federal stamp. So HD falls under the federal grade receptacle class.
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Old 01-04-2008, 10:21 PM   #12
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


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Jim

Your saying the same thing as I was saying Heavy duty is to get you to buy it but it is a better receptacle than the cheapies and will likely carry the federal stamp. So HD falls under the federal grade receptacle class.
Sorry Stubacious-

I didn't read your replies carefully enough! I buy what I do because I am familiar and comfortable with it, not to mention that I think it's a superior product. I was trying to give Armitage a perspective, albeit a dissenting one, based on all the usual suspects' replies, 'til all.

And in closing, I do not buy these items because they are labelled as "heavy duty;" I buy them because they have superior contact pressure and from experience, I prefer them.

Your input is as always, some of the best.

TTFN,
Jimmy
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Last edited by BigJimmy; 01-04-2008 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 01-04-2008, 11:04 PM   #13
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


Jim

I wasn't saying "why did you repeat what I said" ...if that's how you took it... only that we were saying the same thing.

Stubacious .... that is definitely a new one but it does have a ring to it.....
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Old 01-05-2008, 01:42 AM   #14
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


FWIW, I went and got the stuff tonight @ Lowes. Their mid-grade "heavy duty" is indeed marked with the federal stamp. I also compared the "feel" of them with a handy extension cord, and they definitely felt more solid.

I don't mind paying a reasonable price ($1.69/each in this case) for better quality - but not for marketing speak. Does it *really* matter for my application? Probably not. But it's my house and I've done almost everything on it - I'll feel a little better that I didn't scrimp on this

Thanks again.
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Old 01-05-2008, 05:22 AM   #15
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Wiring device quality & suggestions.


Good choice. I've had to replace those cheap one's in under a year. $5 is excessive for a house. You can have a good piece of mind. They should last you the rest of your life, if you stay there. Don't use the back stabes if they have them. Take the time and use the screws and pigtail everything. It takes longer but it's a much better job.

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